‘Vax and scratch’: You have a shot to win $5 million in New York by getting vaccinated next week, Cuomo says

A commuter receives free vaccination for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Coney Island subway station in Brooklyn, New York
A commuter receives a shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during the opening of MTA’s public vaccination program at the Coney Island subway station in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, U.S., May 12, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

All you need is a vaccine and a dream!

Governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that New York will offer a “Vax and Scratch” program next week in which people who get vaccinated will receive a free scratch-off ticket for a chance to win $5 million and other cash prizes.

The lottery’s open to New Yorkers 18 years of age or older who go to one of the state’s mass vaccination sites between May 24-28. Once they get the shot — whether it’s the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine or the one-and-done, they’ll also receive a free $5,000,000 Mega Multiplier scratch-off ticket, which is typically sold at lottery dealers for $20 each. 

Cuomo said the Mega Multiplier tickets offer users a 1 in 9 chance of winning a cash prize. If you don’t win the jackpot, you could walk away with multiples of matching cash values shown on the ticket, from as little as $20 to as much as $50,000.

The governor called the pilot program a “major” step toward boosting vaccinations across New York state. Though 62% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and 51% are considered fully vaccinated, Cuomo noted that there’s been a 43% decline in recent weeks in the number of people coming in for a shot.

Cuomo said the drop-off boils down to a reduction in the number of people eager to get the vaccine. He acknowledged that it will likely take new incentives to help convince skeptical New Yorkers to roll up their sleeves.

The lottery idea is similar to a program that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine launched earlier this month, in anyone getting the COVID-19 vaccine in the Buckeye State would be entered into a weekly lottery for a $1 million prize. According to CBS News, that program led to a surge in vaccinations statewide. 

Cuomo believes the “Vax and Scratch” lottery program in New York is a win-win for the Empire State.

“Everybody wins. You have a 1 in 9 chance of winning the lottery, but if you get the vaccine, you win, because this goes away,” Cuomo said, holding up his face mask. Unvaccinated New Yorkers are still required to wear a face covering out in public under revised CDC guidelines.

“If you are vaccinated, there are more opportunities for you. You’re going to see venues opening up with vaccinated sections and unvaccinated sections,” the governor added. “You’re going to have more of a chance to participate in activities and resume life if you are vaccinated.”

The four state-run mass vaccination sites in New York City that are participating in the “Vax and Scratch” program are Medgar Evers College-Carroll Building, 231 Crown St., Brooklyn; Bay Eden Senior Center, 1220 East 229th St., Bronx; Jacob Javits Convention Center, 429 11th Ave., Manhattan; and York College, 160-02 Liberty Ave., Jamaica, Queens. 

You can make an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine at the state’s Vaccine Hub website, covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov.

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